It make take a year or two for new Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson to reach his potential. He’s a raw talent but Colts insider Joel A. Erickson called him the most athletic quarterback prospect in NFL draft history.
With that kind of superlative, it’s hard to imagine finding a comparison to Richardson. But ESPN’s Louis Riddick said the Florida signal caller brings back memories of former six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb.
“He reminds me so much of, during my time in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb,” Riddick said after the Colts drafted Richardson at No. 4 overall. “As far as being big, strong, physical, the way he whips the football out of his hand and can still throw the football.
“He has elite, and I’m talking about, elite mobility inside the pocket and outside the pocket. He can throw on the run, he can go ahead and break your arm … he has 4-4 speed.
“Donovan could do the same things when he was at Syracuse. He could do the same things when he was at Philadelphia.”
McNabb racked up nearly 33,000 passing yards with 216 touchdowns and 28 rushing scores in 11 years with the Philadelphia Eagles. During that stretch, he made six Pro Bowls.
ESPN’s Louis Riddick Compares Anthony Richardson to Donovan McNabb
McNabb started just six games as a rookie. But after becoming Philadelphia’s starter on a full-time basis in 2000, he made five straight Pro Bowls and led the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Championship Games.
Other than Michael Vick, there wasn’t a more athletic man behind center during that five-year stretch. McNabb threw for 110 touchdowns and rushed for 20 scores in those five seasons.
Richardson has that kind of talent too.
“He has the ability to make plays on the move that very few of his NFL peers will be able to make,” wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who compared Richardson to Cam Newton.
Newton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. McNabb went second overall in 1999 behind only quarterback Tim Couch.
Richardson was the third signal caller off the board in the 2023 NFL draft. But according to Riddick and Zierlein, Richardson has the potential to be an elite quarterback like McNabb and Newton were.
Accuracy Concerns for Richardson
The Florida quarterback doesn’t come without his faults. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have gone after Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.
Despite his physical traits, Richardson is raw. He only started 13 games in college, so he lacks experience.
He also has accuracy concerns.
“His accuracy on short and simple throws left much to be desired due, in part, to shoddy footwork and inconsistent rhythm,” Zierlein wrote. “The footwork issues can be corrected, but the challenge will be determining whether he can be at least a functionally accurate passer at the next level.”
Interestingly, McNabb wasn’t terribly accurate in the NFL. He posted a 59% completion percentage in 13 seasons. The highest completion percentage of his career was 64% in 2004.
In eight of his 13 seasons, McNabb posted a completion percentage below 60%.
The NFL has changed over the last 20 years. Rule alterations have helped offenses as has depth of target on quarterback throws, which have generally become shorter. Both of those things have led to higher completion percentages across the board.
But in some ways, that’s made quarterback accuracy even more important.
Accuracy is something that Richardson will need to improve in order to fulfill his potential.